Families are now £478 million in debt to gas and electricity suppliers, according to new research.
The average amount owed is £131. This is up from £126 last year, and 15% higher than in 2008, reflecting the £433 hike in the cost of energy seen since then, according to comparison website uSwitch.com.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said, “With households still struggling to absorb last year’s price hikes, energy debt is on the rise again.
“And although suppliers have cut their prices this year, the average reduction of £41 or 3.2% doesn’t come near the average increase of £224 or 21% seen since the end of 2010.”
Families could save up to £420 by switching, according to uSwitch.com.
Ann recommends families cut down on the amount of energy they use, pay bills by direct debit as suppliers offer discounts for paying this way, and take regular meter readings instead of relying on estimated bills.
“Anyone who is concerned about managing their energy bills should contact their supplier to discuss the options,” she adds.